The cast of “Steel Magnolias” (from left): Hiwa Bourne as Truvy, Ruth Coughlin as Shelby, Karen Huie as Ouiser, Diane Kobayashi as Clairee, Lovelle Liquigan as Annelle, Patti Yasutake as M’Lynn.

East West Players, the nation’s largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work and the longest-running professional theater of color in the country, opens its 48th anniversary season, themed “Making Light,” with “Steel Magnolias” by Robert Harling.

Directed by Laurie Woolery, “Steel Magnolias” is a classic comedy-drama play that later became a popular film about the bond among a group of Southern women. The action centers on Truvy’s beauty parlor and the women who regularly gather there.

“There are plum roles in this play which can be played by actresses of any background,” says Tim Dang, EWP producing artistic director. “Additionally, a little-known fact to the mainstream is that there are sizable Asian American populations in the South, including Houston, Dallas, Jacksonville, Orlando, Virginia Beach, and throughout the gulf region.”

The design team includes: Christopher Scott Murillo, scenic design; Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz, lighting design; Sara Ryung Clement, costume design; and Cory Carrillo, sound design. Stage manager is Daniel Reano-Koven.

All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St. in Little Tokyo. Previews are Thursday, Sept. 5, through Saturday, Sept. 7, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m. All preview seats are $26.

The production stars:

Hiwa Bourne (“The Pity of Things,” “Crimes of the Heart,” “Shake”) as Truvy;

Ruth Coughlin (“A Christmas Carol,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) as Shelby;

Karen Huie (“A Little Night Music,” “Joy Luck Club”) as Ouiser;

Dian Kobayashi (“Joy Luck Club,” “Equus”) as Clairee’

Lovelle Liquigan (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Language Archive”) as Annelle;

Patti Yasutake (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) as M’Lynn.

Opening night is Wednesday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. and includes a 7 p.m. pre-performance cocktail reception and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team (call theater for ticket price and availability). A special “pay-what-you-can” performance is on Thursday, Sept. 12. Southern California Edison Community Night is Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 8 p.m. The production runs until Oct. 6.

Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (213) 625-7000. Regular tickets range from $36-$46. Student and senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

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